Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wild times outside the ballpark

Wild times outside the ballpark

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While the victory party was going on inside Citizens Bank Park, another was in full swing outside.

In the parking lot, with helicopters hovering overhead, firecrackers going off and innumerable crushed beer cans at their feet, the fans were happily tailgating, throwing footballs, and just soaking up the moment. One group came in a U-Haul truck equipped with two upholstered chairs in the back.

Being at the stadium was so important to 31-year-old Mike Castle of Deerfield, N.J., that he left work at 3 a.m. in Thorofare, picked up his father and a friend to drive directly to the park. At 5:30 a.m., he was the fourth one to arrive at the parking lot.

By 3:30 p.m., Castle sat in a folding chair next to his Chrysler Concorde while country-western music blared from the radio.

“I have been waiting for this for years, my whole life,” he said while drinking about his seventh Bud Light.

Castle said he didn’t see the parade; there were too many people in the way. No problem. He was satisfied to be part of the excitement.

“I couldn’t stay no longer” with the fans waiting for the parade, he said. “I’ve been up over 30 hours. I ain’t seen nothing.”

Phillies fan Kim Jenkins, 22, of Yardley, celebrated the team’s triumph by flashing the crowds. She lifted up her shirt.

“Why not?” said her boyfriend, Bryan Miller, 23, also of Yardley. Both held beer cans in their hands and had been drinking for a few hours.

Four other fans from Cecil County, Maryland came to the ballpark in a 1967 firetruck and parked - unmolested by police - along Pattison Avenue.

They began their journey at 6:30 a.m.. They blew a fan belt on I-95 and didn’t arrive until 1 p.m.

The truck’s co—owner, Chuck Murray, 38, said the truck hadn’t run in ten years but was repaired by him and a friend to make the trip to Philadelphia.

Later, several other fans climbed up on the truck as they were celebrating.

On the parking lot of the ballpark, three Northeast Philadelphia women were dressed as the “flyin’ Hawaiians” to honor Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino, nicknamed the “flyin’ Hawaiian.”

They created costumes last nigh that included leis, grass shirts and butterfly wings, then came to the parade to watch one of their favorite players.

“It was crazy,” said Marty Kusters, 32, of Northeast Philadelphia, recalling Victorino dancing on a platform on flatbed truck during the parade. “Victorino was awesome. He was going nuts dancing up there.”

Kusters and her friends tailgated all morning, then had their own mini-parade across the lot.

As the party inside the ballpark ended and other fans poured out, problems began to crop up.

Traffic turned into gridlock especially along Pattison. Near Lincoln Financial Field, a 100-foot section of iron feet - about eight feet talk - was knocked down. And tow trucks were out in force.

Confusion reigned.

But Phillies fans were happy. It took 28 years but they finally had their World Series. Go Phillies!

 Kathy Boccella

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